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PLAIN TRUTH: About those condom adverts

by kenya-tribune
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By JOAN THATIAH
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I liked the condom advert that was recently banned from television for being ‘sexually suggestive’ – the one featuring a man and a pair of socks.

I think it was very creative. Long before Ezekiel Mutua cracked his whip on it, this ad had been causing ripples. It made a lot of people squirm in their seats whenever it aired. Others were outraged that their children could see it.

There are many problems with this picture. First of all, children as young as nine are having sex. Don’t believe me? Look at the statistics.

Instead of admitting this and taking things like this condom advert as an opportunity for sex education, we want to bury our heads in the sand and pretend that children are not having sex. Or send them off to youth camp and hope to God that the youth pastor will tell them to abstain. The hypocrisy!

Second, there is a long list of other adverts and content on our screens that is quite inappropriate and far more suggestive than this condom advert, but we turn a blind eye and zero in on those adverts that touch on contraception because it’s a topic that makes us uncomfortable.

Third, this fear that we all seem to have that talking about sex will make children want to have sex is outrageous. That is not how it works. Truth is, at some point, these children may have sex. Your not wanting to talk about it will not stop them. Wouldn’t it be better if they had all the information on safe sex then?

Banning condom adverts is not helping our children or our young women. If you ask me, leaving an important topic like safe sex and contraception untouched is far more harmful than having these ads running on TV.

The only form of sex education that our mothers got was warnings not to play with boys and not to dare fall pregnant. At least our grandmothers and the women before them had the benefit if growing up in pre-religious cultures that made sex education part of adolescence, which means that sex education is, in essence, a part of our culture and tradition.

It’s 2018 and we pride ourselves in being progressive women; why can’t we act like it? Why are there still all these stigmas and silences around women’s sexual health?

I met a young woman not very long ago who was running a start-up business installing sanitary pad dispensers in institutions and companies.

She told me that the hardest part of her job was sitting in meetings with potential clients. If not visibly uncomfortable, both men and women, she told me, would be hostile because ‘this is not an issue that should be openly spoken about’.

If we can’t have conversations about menstruation, if we can’t stand watching a condom advert, how are we going to have candid conversations about women’s sexual and reproductive health?

If a contraception advert is offensive, where is that woman in a relationship with mismatch of power going to get the confidence to own her right to contraception?

Let’s stop being regressive and open up our minds a little bit. Let’s openly talk about sex, menstruation, contraception and menopause. A good place to start would be sitting through that condom advert without squirming in your seat.



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